When You Teach, Reach the Heart
1, 2. (a) What does it take to build in others a deep appreciation for Jehovah and his standards? (b) Why is more than head knowledge needed?
WHEREAS you can make quick work of putting up a hut, you certainly cannot build a palace overnight. The same is true of making disciples. It is no small task to build in others a deep appreciation for Jehovah and his standards. It takes considerable time and skill to produce such “palaces.”
2 To accomplish this, more is involved than imparting knowledge. As Proverbs 3:1 says: “My son, my law do not forget, and my commandments may your heart observe.” Our students must be taught what the Bible says. But more than that, Bible truth must be impressed upon their hearts. Yes, it is the heart that we must reach if we are to build fire-resistant qualities into those we teach, helping them to develop a strong relationship with Jehovah God.
3. (a) Why does the “art of teaching” have much to do with whether we reach the heart? (b) As we consider some practical suggestions, whom should you have in mind?
3 Clearly, this is easier said than done. To reach hearts we must not only have the right building materials but also employ the “art of teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2) It is not enough to tell the truth to our students. Rather, the “art of teaching” involves helping them to think and to reason on what they learn. It is not that our ingenuity or methods can produce spiritual growth; it is God’s blessing that counts. (1 Corinthians 3:5, 6) Nevertheless, there are a few suggestions that can help us to reach the hearts of others. As we consider these points, have in mind those whom you teach—your Bible students and your children.
Set the Right Example
4. (a) What is one thing that made Jesus effective in reaching others? (b) Why is it important to set the right example when teaching others?
4 What better example could we have of how to reach the hearts of others than Jesus Christ himself? Why was he so effective in reaching people? For one thing, Jesus practiced what he preached, providing a sterling example for his followers to imitate. (John 13:15; 1 Peter 2:21) This, then, is the first suggestion: set the right example. Is it not logical that we should have the same durable Christian qualities that we wish to build in others? As Jesus put it: “Every well-trained student will be like his teacher.”—Luke 6:40, The New Berkeley Version.
5. How do the Scriptures show the connection between setting the right example and reaching the hearts of others?
5 The Bible repeatedly shows the connection between setting the right example and reaching the hearts of others. For instance, Deuteronomy 6:4-6 indicates that love for Jehovah must “be on your [the parent’s] heart” before you can inculcate it into the hearts of your children. (Proverbs 20:7) In contrast, Jesus rebuked the hypocritical Pharisees of his day because they ‘said but did not perform.’ Is it any wonder that the heart of the people had grown “unreceptive”?—Matthew 23:3; 13:13-15.
6. Why is it important for you to live in accord with what you teach? (Romans 2:21-23)
6 So there must be harmony between what you teach and what you practice. For example, if you wish to build in your students or children a love for Jehovah and a desire to please him, then should they not be able to see by your prayers, speech and actions evidence of such love and desire in you? If you want to instill a strong devotion to Bible principles, should they not first see that you, by your words and deeds, do not try to sidestep those principles? Those we teach, particularly our children, often pay more attention to what we do than to what we say. When others see that we live in accord with what we teach, we will be in a better position to reach their hearts.
7, 8. (a) Upon what does much of our success in reaching others depend? (b) Why are questions helpful in reaching the heart?
7 A second suggestion, something else that made Jesus such an effective teacher, is the use of questions. Jesus was a master at getting people to think and reason. (Matthew 17:24-27) Much of your success in reaching the hearts of those you teach depends upon your use of questions. Why?
8 First, by asking questions you can determine whether your student really is understanding what he is learning. After all, if he does not understand and accept the information, how can it possibly take root in his heart? (Luke 8:15) Second, to reach the heart it is helpful to know what is in the heart. Preconceived ideas and false religious teachings may be strongly entrenched. Since we cannot read the heart, we need to ask questions that particularly get the student to express in his own words what he feels in his heart. Consider some examples.
9, 10. Illustrate the effective use of viewpoint questions.
9 Let us suppose that you are discussing chapter 10, “Wicked Spirits Are Powerful,” in the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth. You come to paragraph 18, on page 97, where the printed question asks, “What example of the early Christians at Ephesus is a good one to follow if a person wants to break free from spiritism?” Your student may answer correctly from the paragraph, but how does he really feel? Perhaps he practiced spiritism for many years and became a strong believer in it. If so, is he now convinced that he should break free from it? You might have to ask: ‘How do you feel about this? How can you apply this information in your life?’ The way he now answers may reveal to what extent the information has touched his heart.
10 To take another example, you might be considering with your child chapter 26, “The Fight to Do What Is Right,” in the same book. On page 220, the “b” question for paragraph 8 asks, “What viewpoint, as expressed by a youth, would we be wise to have?” Your child may at first answer from the paragraph, not really expressing how he feels. You may need gently to probe a little deeper: ‘But how do you feel about this? Does this viewpoint seem reasonable to you?’ Or you might pose a situation: ‘Suppose some youths at school were smoking and offered you a cigarette? What if quite a number of others were watching and started making fun of you because you did not accept? What would you do?’ When used discreetly, such questions can help you to determine what is in your child’s heart.
11. (a) Why is caution needed when using questions? (b) Why do parents especially need to be cautious when their children express wrong views? (Colossians 3:21)
11 A word of caution, though. At times such questions may bring answers that surprise or disappoint you. What then? If it is a sensitive subject, it may be better not to force the issue but to say: ‘Let’s go on for now. We’ll talk about this again sometime.’ (John 16:12) Especially is such caution needed on the part of the parents. When wrong views are expressed, hold your emotions in check. You do not want to damage the line of communication. If your child becomes afraid to express how he feels, how will you know what is in his heart so that you can help him?
Highlight the Wisdom of Obeying God’s Laws
12, 13. (a) Why will seeing the wisdom of obeying God’s laws touch your student’s heart? (b) What is involved in helping a student to see that obeying Jehovah is the course of wisdom?
12 A third suggestion is to help your student to see the wisdom of obeying God’s laws. (Deuteronomy 4:5, 6; 10:12, 13) This can touch his heart. How so? Well, if he is convinced that keeping Jehovah’s laws is in his own best interests, this may move him to love God and want to please him.—Psalm 112:1.
13 How can you help those you teach to see the wisdom of obeying God’s laws? We might illustrate this by comparing Jehovah’s laws to “No Trespassing” signs. While such a sign is in itself a warning, would you not agree that when the sign contains the reason for the warning obedience comes more readily? For example, if the sign says “No Trespassing—High Voltage,” then the would-be trespasser, recognizing the possibility of personal danger, is more inclined to heed the warning.
14. (a) In what way could you reason with your student to help him to see why a particular course is wise or foolish? (b) What scriptures illustrate the importance of giving the reason why a course is good or bad?
14 It is similar with God’s laws. Do not simply tell your student what the Bible says is right and what is wrong; help him to see why a particular course is wise or foolish. Reason with him on how obedience to God’s laws will benefit him. Help him to see the consequences of disregarding those requirements. The Bible itself does this at times. Read for yourself, please, Proverbs 22:24, 25; 23:4, 5; 24:15, 16, 19, 20. Notice that in each case the Bible gives the reason why a course is good or bad.
15. Use the questions and scriptures provided to discuss the wisdom of obeying what God says about dishonesty and fornication.
15 To illustrate, consider how the following questions and scriptures emphasize the wisdom of obeying God’s laws.
Fornication: How may immorality hurt us? (Proverbs 5:9; 7:21-23; 1 Corinthians 6:18) How may it have a harmful effect upon others? (1 Thessalonians 4:6; 1 Corinthians 5:6; Hebrews 12:15, 16) How do you benefit when you heed the Bible’s moral standards? (Proverbs 5:18, 19; Hebrews 13:4)
After reasoning in this way on a Bible law, you might ask: ‘Do you feel that Jehovah has our best interests at heart? Do you agree that his laws really do not deprive us of anything good?’
16. What effect may reasoning in this way have upon your student?
16 During the course of the study, reason similarly on God’s law regarding drunkenness, the paying of taxes, smoking, the blood issue, and so forth. In this way your student or child is helped to see that all of God’s laws are for our good. It is not that your student should always need reasons to obey God. But a few examples may help to reach his heart, moving him to want to please God. Thus, when the “fire,” or test, comes, he will more readily obey God’s word.—1 Corinthians 3:13.
Help Them to Know God
17. What additional suggestion can help you to reach the heart of your student?
17 A fourth suggestion is this: help your student to know God. (John 17:3) More than just helping him to know that Jehovah exists and has a name, help your student to come to know him intimately. This will touch his heart because to know Jehovah is to love him.
18. During the study, how could you draw attention to Jehovah’s qualities?
18 How can you help your student to know Jehovah intimately? For one thing, you cannot love someone unless you know his qualities, his ways. So during the study, be ever mindful of drawing attention to Jehovah’s matchless qualities. This often can be done regardless of the subject being considered. For example, when discussing the ransom, you could pause at an appropriate point and ask: ‘How does the ransom provision magnify the depth of Jehovah’s love for us?’ Or when considering God’s permission of wickedness, you could ask: ‘How has Jehovah shown great long-suffering in the face of man’s wickedness?’ or, ‘How did Jehovah display matchless wisdom in the way he handled the rebellion in Eden?’ Reasoning in this way will help to build in your student a strong feeling of devotion to Jehovah. He will come to view Jehovah as a Person whose qualities he finds endearing, inviting.
19, 20. (a) What else is needed in order to know Jehovah intimately? (b) How does the experience in the paragraph illustrate the importance of setting the right example when it comes to prayer?
19 In addition, you cannot really get to know someone well without some kind of communication. Similarly, your student cannot enjoy an intimate relationship with Jehovah without communicating with him. Appreciating this, teach your student how to pray. Help him to see the wide variety of matters that are proper subjects for prayer. (1 John 5:14) Build in him appreciation for Jehovah as One who both hears and answers prayers. (Psalm 65:2) Encourage him to express his innermost feelings, ‘pouring out his heart’ to Jehovah.—Psalm 62:8.
20 Here again, your own example is important. Do your prayers reflect the depth of your devotion to God? This can have a very wholesome effect on those you teach, including your children. Consider the following experience.
Some years ago, one Christian couple were teaching their three-year-old boy how to pray. One night, after praying for Jehovah to bless Mommy and Daddy, the boy asked Jehovah to bless “Wally.” Who was “Wally”? His parents did not know, and the boy began praying for “Wally” quite regularly! Finally, after much wonderment, they realized what had happened. The boy was praying for the brothers in Malawi (who at the time were experiencing persecution), but he mispronounced it as “Wally.” The point is, the little boy had heard his parents praying in this way, and he imitated their fine example. Just imagine how those parents felt!
Does this not illustrate the importance of setting the right example when it comes to teaching others how to pray?
21. (a) According to 1 Corinthians 3:14, 15, for what may you as a Christian builder hope? (b) Is the “reward” the prize of eternal life in God’s New Order? Explain.
21 So, then, if we are to build in others fire-resistant qualities, helping them to develop a good relationship with Jehovah, we must reach their hearts. It may not be easy to do, but it is rewarding. Paul indicated this when he said: “If anyone’s work that he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward; if anyone’s work is burned up [because he built poorly, not using fire-resistant materials], he will suffer loss [that is, what he built will be lost to the “fire”], but he himself will be saved; yet, if so, it will be as through fire.” What is the “reward”? Evidently Paul had in mind something other than the prize of eternal life in God’s New Order, for notice that the one who built poorly loses the “reward,” though he himself may be saved if he makes it through the “fire.”—1 Corinthians 3:14, 15.
22, 23. (a) What reward did the apostle Paul receive in connection with his Christian brothers at Thessalonica? (b) What “reward” is your heart’s desire, and how may you receive it?
22 What, then, is this “reward”? Something Paul said to the Thessalonians sheds light on this. To the persecuted Christians there, Paul wrote: “What is our hope or joy or crown of exultation—why, is it not in fact you?—before our Lord Jesus at his presence? You certainly are our glory and joy [“our pride and our joy!” Today’s English Version].” (1 Thessalonians 2:19, 20) Paul had aided those Thessalonians into the way of truth. And although from the beginning they had experienced persecution, they were standing firm. Paul’s reward was the joy of seeing them endure in the face of opposition. This testified that Paul had built well.
23 It is similar with us. Is it not your heart’s desire to help those you teach to develop the durable Christian qualities that will enable them to stand firm in the face of the temptations and pressures that may come upon them? Yes, how rewarding it is to see your Bible students and your children withstanding such fiery tests! This testifies that you have built well. May that be your reward as you build on a right foundation with fire-resistant materials and as you look to Jehovah to bless your efforts.
Can you recall?
To reach the heart—
□ Why is it important to set the right example?
□ What kind of questions are helpful, and why?
□ Why does your student need to see the wisdom of obeying God’s laws?
□ Why must your student learn how to pray?
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Do your prayers reflect the depth of your devotion to God? This can touch your child’s heart